Do you love it here? I get asked this one a lot and my answer has changed over the years. But yes, yes I do.
When we first moved to Phoenix, I made a lot of mental notes of the things I liked and disliked. I judged everything rather than letting myself be a part of the experience.
When we’ve visited cool places and cities throughout the US, I think about what it would be like to live there. I still do. I want to believe it comes from a place of wonder, but it feels more like FOMO when it happens. One time, we actually took action rather than dwelling on that question. That’s how we ended up here in Arizona.
Despite all of the incredible things we did in the first year here, I was skeptical if Phoenix was our place. Then, my wife found an amazing book called This Is Where You Belong by Melody Warnick and things started to change. She wrote an amazing post on the takeaways that you should definitely read.
The more I gave to my city, the more I got back from it. When I invested time, curiosity, and enthusiasm, I felt more invested.Melody Warnick, This is Where You Belong
Fast forward a few years, and it’s become more clear that loving where you live (or moving to a place you might) is a choice you make. If that choice doesn’t come from your own heart, then that choice becomes more complicated.
There are moments in life – despite all the imperfections and work left to do – when you realize you’re exactly where you’re supposed to be. Acceptance of yourself and loving where you live is a lot like this. You take the good with the bad but if you look hard enough, you’ll always find more good than bad.
I’d like to tell you a little bit about the place we live in and what it has taught me.
A Little about Phoenix
Phoenix is an interesting place and most areas are car-dependent which horrifies me. It’s filled with what I call “pockets of entertainment” – epic places dispersed throughout the sprawled city. Often these pockets lack pedestrian connectivity which makes it tough to walk comfortably from place to place.
If you do choose to walk, you’ll likely see the past failures of poor city planning and a dangerous pedestrian environment. You’ll also likely come across a few intersections half the size of the Grand Canyon as you wait for the pedestrian walk sign that seems to never come. Perhaps I’m overly critical given my urban planning background and my distaste for driving.
However, there is a decent multi-modal system that includes a light rail that connects multiple cities throughout the East Valley; it doesn’t get enough credit. In my opinion, multi-modalism is one of the most important things that makes a city great. Definitely something to be grateful for.
Phoenix is blessed with a lot of local businesses and restaurants, year-round farmer’s markets, coffee shops, art scene, hiking, etc.
You’ll find a lot of run-down buildings and poverty-stricken areas. Along with unique historic neighborhoods just blocks away from fancy downtown condos and uppity neighborhoods. Over the past few years, Downtown Phoenix (and throughout) has been BOOMING and is rapidly becoming more lively. I love it.
The location is on point
Then there’s the prime location of the city – 4.5 hours to Vegas, 2 hours to Flagstaff/Sedona, 7 hours to the beautiful San Juan Mountains in Colorado, 5 hours to San Diego, 4 hours to Mexico, 5.5 hours to LA, and a max of 4 hours to access some of the millions of acres of protected forest land throughout the state. All of which can be timed with the weather to create a year-round wonderland of outdoor activities.
Bonus points for having a major airport with pretty much any flight to a west coast city for under $250 round trip. Extra bonus points for being pretty affordable for a big city. I haven’t given much here but seriously guys, don’t sleep on Phoenix or Arizona.
That recent moment
Like with everything else great in your life, it takes a moment of reflection to realize what you have where you currently live. These moments are often small and fleeting. Sometimes they happen when I’m doing something like sitting around a pool in February with my shirt off.
Or that same day while driving home with the windows down alongside the most beautiful sunset in the backdrop of the Phoenix skyline and mountains.
Or that next day when you get some lunch in your neighborhood with some of your best friends.
It took me a while to realize it and accept that I (we) love Phoenix. Now I feel the excitement when people ask us if we do. Is PHX our forever home? Maybe. Do you really have to move across the country to get this? Nah. But these are questions I try not to think about much these days. After all, I still battle FOMO pretty hard.
Do you love where you live?
If the place you live doesn’t light you up, its something worth contemplating. Is it because you haven’t used it to your advantage (such as exploring all of the IL State Parks like my awesome friend Mary is doing) by seeking out something outside of your norm? Or is it because you really are ready for a change?
Taking a chance at building a life here has opened my eyes in more ways than one. It has helped me realize that we are all in control of our lives. No matter how many excuses we have for not taking a bold chance where we live or the choices we make.
Speaking from experience, every place has its faults. When you accept these faults and small characteristics of the place you’re in, these faults become less of deal-breakers. Talking shit about your town/city won’t help. Cherishing the time you spend with your friends and loved ones in even the most boring places, will.
Accepting the place you live is a lot like accepting yourself for being where you’re at in life. After all, you’re exactly where you’re supposed to be. Right now. And it’s not where you are or where you’ve been that matters now, it’s where you’re going.
Our move has helped me realize that if we are going to build an amazing life, loving where we live is one piece of the puzzle. It’s our choice to embrace adventure and reflect on what we want out of our lives. And most importantly, never forget the people and place we came from. No matter where we end up.